Liberal do-gooders and big-government politicians think they know better than their neighbors how their neighbors should live their lives. Therefore, these master planners of other people’s lives devise and pass into law big plans for big chunks of our economy. Obamacare is a case in point. A bunch of know-it-alls got together and designed a new health care system for America. In the tradition of Gosplan and other 20th century central planning institutions they modeled their reform after an ideologically driven ideal of what the world should look like, not the realities on the ground. As a result, our health care system is gradually deteriorating, with costs of health insurance going up, the percent of families without insurance going up, a cost crisis in Medicaid and Medicare… and there is so much more to come. Like the closing of rural hospitals. The nicest thing to say about their future is that it is uncertain under Obamacare:
Small, rural hospitals around the country are worried how they will fare under the new federal health care overhaul. Some critics of the reform law fear that small, rural hospitals will be gobbled up by large health care systems or even forced to close. Overhaul supporters say it’s an important step to stopping the decline in access to quality health care in many rural areas. Alan Morgan, of the National Rural Health Association, says the overhaul has good and bad consequences for rural hospitals. The association represents some 20,000 rural caregivers and others. The law seeks to enhance access to health care in rural areas while mandating cost controls and procedures that rural caregivers would find difficult to implement. In addition, many specifics of the law are still being devised.
This does not sound very dramatic. However, in today’s print edition of the Casper Star Tribune (front page, section A) tells of a different side to the health care “reform”:
West Park Hospital, a 25-bed facility that serves a mostly rural area of northern Wyoming, is spending $4 million to upgrade its computer system. It didn’t want to spend that much, but under the new federal health care law the hospital says it didn’t have a choice. The $4 million is to make the hospital’s patient information accessible to other hospitals and caregivers around the nation. It comes at a time when the hospital is spending $20 million to renovate its facilities, including improving its aging emergency room. While West Park is financially strong enough to undertake both projects, its administrators worry about whether it can survive in the evolving federal health care system that is being enacted in doses over the coming years. “It is going to be really hard in the future for hospitals to make money or even to just break even, especially with this future health care climate” said Melissa Fraser, who chairs the board that oversees West Park Hospital. “We want to see our hospital survive, and we want to be able to provide excellent health care for the patients in this area. But we are very concerned about what is happening in Washington.
On the expenditure side, hospitals, like all health care providers, will have to comply with more and more government regulations. Their operating costs will go up while their revenues go down. Only a liberal politician in Washington, DC would think that this is going to improve the American health care system.
The change-for-the-worse future for America’s rural hospitals is frighteningly similar to what has happened in other countries with central health care planning. I wrote about this in my book Remaking America: Welcome to the Dark Side of the Welfare State. Anyone interested in what is coming next down the Obamacare pike should read it.